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E05328: Two Latin sermons are composed, probably near Vercelli, northern Italy in the late 4th century, in honour of *Eusebius (bishop of Vercelli, ob. 371, S01219) on the occasion of his feast day; spuriously attributed to Maximus of Turin.

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posted on 2018-04-12, 00:00 authored by frances
Maximus of Turin (dubium), Sermons 7-8


Sermon 7
This sermon was preached on the feast day (natalis) of Eusebius, who excelled as a teacher. The virtues of Exuperantius, Eusebius’ companion as martyr, are referred to in general terms. In Eusebius’ lifetime, Arian heretics were active in Italy. The authority of the martyr Dionysius (most likely the bishop of Milan, ob. 355) was appropriated by this group – who attached his signature to one of their documents, until Eusebius tricked them into removing it. He was then exiled, tortured and ultimately killed. His head was crushed and his body battered, but his faith remained strong. His feast day is fittingly celebrated on the same day as the feast of the *Maccabean Martyrs (pre-Christian Jewish martyrs of Antioch, S00303).

Sermon 8
This sermon is entitled ‘On the deposition or feast day of the same Saint Eusebius’ (De depositione vel natale eiusdem sancti Eusebi). The preacher opens the sermon by stating that he is preaching to celebrate Eusebius’ deposition (depositio). He then tells his congregation what he means by depositio. It is what happens when a saint lays down their earthly body to go to heaven. Before his day of deposition, Eusebius had a vision of himself flying from one mountain to another on the kalends of August.

Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Maccabean Martyrs, pre-Christian Jewish martyrs of Antioch : S00303 Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli (north Italy), ob. AD 371 : S01219

Saint Name in Source

Maccabei Eusebius

Type of Evidence

Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Vercelli Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Maximus of Turin

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Uncertainty/scepticism/rejection of a saint

Cult Activities - Miracles

Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Heretics Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Torturers/Executioners


These sermons were attributed to Maximus of Turin, but Almut Mutzenbecher has argued that they were more likely composed by a disciple of Eusebius shortly after the saint's death in 371. Not only is the manuscript evidence linking this sermon to Maximus weak, but Mutzenbecher also highlights the stylistic differences between this sermon and others composed by Maximus. For a full account of this argument, see 'Bestimmung' at 225-227. It is likely that these two sermons were not composed by Maximus of Turin. Yet, it is very possible that Maximus did compose two other sermons commemorating Eusebius, both of which are now lost. This is attested in the short biography of him composed by Gennadius of Marseille in the later fifth century (De viris illustribus 41). If Maximus did compose a separate sermon in honour of Eusebius, this would suggest that Eusebius' early cult was fairly well developed.


Much of the detail given in this sermon is legendary. Eusebius was persecuted by the Arians, but it was nothing like the persecution described in Sermon 7 and he survived to die a peaceful death in 371. The Dionysius referred to in Sermon 7 is most likely Dionysius the bishop of Milan, who signed the Arian condemnation of Athanasius in 355. He later retracted his signature under pressure from Eusebius. The deposition referred to in Sermon 8 is Eusebius’ day of death, that is his feast day, day of rebirth or natalis. This date is identified as 1 August, the same date as the feast of the Maccabean martyrs. This is the date on which both Eusebius and the Maccabean martyrs are celebrated according to the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (E04900).


Edition: Mutzenbecher, A., Maximi episcopi Taurinensis Collectionem sermonum antiquam (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 23; Turnhout: Brepols, 1962). Translation: Ramsey, B., The Sermons of Maximus of Turin (Ancient Christian Writers 50; Westminster MD: Newman Press, 1989). Further Reading: Mutzenbecher, Almut, 'Bestimmung der echten Sermones des Maximus Taurinensis', Sacris Eudiri, 12 (1961) 197-293, especially 225-227.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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